- The Big Picture - http://www.ritholtz.com/blog -
Posted By Bob Lefsetz On February 21, 2014 @ 6:15 am In M&A,Technology,Valuation | Comments Disabled
He’s creatively bankrupt.
Recent studies show that few post and no one clicks through on likes, what’s a poor boy to do?
Buy something with all that Wall Street money to deflect criticism as those prognosticating and investing miss the point.
Steve Jobs is a hero not because he started the computer revolution, but because he continued it. Sure, he dandied up the Mac and got people buying fashion, but truly it was the iPod that broke Apple wide open, with the iPhone and iPad making it the world’s most valuable company.
Amazon has stayed ahead by creating the Kindle, in-house.
I’m not saying that that Apple and Amazon made no acquisitions, didn’t build upon the technology in the field, but I am saying they pushed it to create something new, that caught the public’s fancy. That’s Apple’s challenge today, to continue to innovate with its founder gone.
Microsoft was famous for stealing others’ ideas and then improving upon them. But the lack of vision has hobbled the company. After improving word processing and spreadsheets and the browser and utilizing the company’s OS to leverage their adoption, the company ran out of steam because it just couldn’t innovate.
Facebook innovation is centered on changing privacy and advertising policies, flummoxing users all the while.
The Instagram purchase was akin to an industrialist buying a baseball team.
Nothing is pushing the ball forward, because there’s no vision. The guy in the hoodie is played out.
One can even argue he stole his original idea from the Winklevosses.
Just because you’re under thirty, that does not mean you’ve got your pulse on technology.
Furthermore, execution is key, but it’s built upon a foundation of creativity. You can get a plethora of people to play the notes, but finding someone to write them?
Yes, tech is just like music. A manager can get lucky once. The proof of talent is someone who does it twice, never mind many times.
Kind of like Bruce Allen. Who went from BTO to Bryan Adams to Michael Buble all of whom were different. And Bruce gets little press. But he’s working all the time.
Furthermore, the press and the public were caught flat-footed, because living in the so-called “Greatest Country In The World” they were asleep when it came to WhatsApp. I was too, until I went to Bogota and asked what that app Wendy kept tapping on her iPhone was. She stared at me incredulously…it’s WHATSAPP!
We want to communicate, we want to share. And some are fame whores. But most of us just want to be connected.
And Facebook and Twitter and so many social networks are built upon the fame whore paradigm. Let’s get the wannabe to spread the word, get everybody interested so we can go public and get rich and leave investors holding the bag.
Twitter… Baba Booey said he hadn’t tweeted in weeks. I barely do. Because I see no reason to put another raindrop into a sea of noise. I’m not saying I don’t check my feed, but what happens when only the fame whores are left?
You’ve got Facebook. Which has hit a wall. After the thrill of connecting with everybody you’ve ever known is gone, then what?
BlackBerry missed out, BBM was the first. Well, not really, AOL’s Instant Messenger was the first, but they could never capitalize on that.
Apple has iMessage, but it’s not an open platform.
And we learn that the cell companies are caught flat-footed, the same way the record companies were when ringtones died. Charging for texts? That’s soon to be history.
But is WhatsApp worth $19 billion?
Of course not. But it’s not real money anyway.
Don’t confuse Facebook with Google, which wanted WhatsApp too. Google had a second act, known as Gmail, the company is not only about search. The purchase of YouTube was after the fact. The purchase of Nest? There’s a bit of vision there, but…
Apple is still the king. Because it’s actually making products people want. That they’re paying hard cash for.
But it’s not forever, it’s just until the next big thing.
Social networking is forever. Facebook and Twitter may not be, they may just be features in a future ecosystem.
Meanwhile, WhatsApp is news today and we’ll be talking about something else tomorrow.
But unlike tech, a great song is forever. You don’t have any use for your Windows XP machine, but you still want to hear Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.”
You can’t buy the world, the same way you can’t buy romance. Connection is something you feel. Creativity is something inbred. Just because Mark Zuckerberg fleshed out Facebook that does not mean he’s a visionary.
He’s anything but.
Stop drinking the kool-aid.
P.S. It’s truly a global village. But only someone from Kiev seems to know this. Jan Koum set about to lasso the entire world’s users, not just those in the media-savvy, media-hungry United States. If you’re not marketing to the entire world, you’re not dreaming big enough.
P.P.S. Like a great band, the message was sent by fans, not publicity. Marketing is secondary to usage. In other words, people know a good app/track when they see/hear it, and they find out about it from other users.
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